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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor



Other people’s money
To the Editor:
Mr. James Luke makes a point in his letter re: rising Shelter Island taxes (“Captive,” December 22). The school taxes are up 6.2 percent with a declining student population. The Board of Education has some tough challenges there and I wish them luck.

Our town taxes are up similarly. I have no higher priority than fighting this trend. I hope I’m not hearing the soft refrains of Bachman Turner Overdrive’s hit “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” Getting everything neat as a pin and closely regulating our residents’ lives requires a lot of money and additional town personnel (and probably a new Town Hall building — we’re bursting at the seams). Unfortunately I have found over many years in business and government some people enjoy nothing more than spending “OPM” (other people’s money — your taxes). I don’t.

I think we have a wonderful, unique and informal community and let’s keep it that way. Another ultra-polished, high priced, suburban resort would be a tragedy in my view.

My best wishes for a happy and a fiscally and physically healthy new year!
Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island

Inaccurate, ignorant
To the Editor:
I appreciate dissonance; I believe that discourse on opposite sides of an issue strengthens and enhances civilization. However, when discourse devolves into pejorative, inaccurate and ignorant rhetoric, I feel the need to respond (see Your Letters, “Deeply disturbed,” December 15).

First, one cannot teach a gym; it is inanimate. One may exercise in a gym, but imparting information is impossible.

Second, define “government.” My take is that it is leadership, guidance, fiscal responsibility and a meaningful desire to achieve a greater good for the majority of one’s constituents. Not to digress, but if one takes a look at Mr. Colligan’s resume, one would understand that his academic, military and professional experiences meet and exceed the criteria of what makes a good “governing experience”.

Third, was the target Mary and Jim because they are perceived as new and therefore vulnerable? Again if one takes the time (and has the time and has access due to full-time residency) to revisit the Town Board’s televised meetings, one would ascertain that all of the board members, including the undulating, ever-gracious, intellectual Mr. Dougherty, supported monitoring the summer rentals for a year and imposing regulations if they were needed.

This board did not seek to impose oppressive restrictions. Full-time residents came to the board to ask for assurances from their governing body that their quality of life would not be diminished or destroyed by renters who were disrespectful of the homes they rented, the residents around those homes and the Island in general.

Finally, please explain the impact of short-term, long-term. mid-term or no-term renters on the tax base. Homeowners pay taxes, not renters.

You need to ask your cronies for more accurate information (ask them to send you the link) before you address something about which you know little.
Shelter Island

Change the date
To the Editor:
As property owners on Shelter Island for the past 12 years, we have been observing with great concern the short-term rental surge on the East End.

It has become more than a cottage business. Absentee owners now buy local properties with the sole intent of turning them into short-term rentals (from one or two night stays to long week-end or weekly rentals). The model is a fast turn-over, high-occupancy real estate play. The industry is growing in leaps and bounds.

It was worth reading the Shelter Island Town Board draft law addressing this issue locally, which was recently posted on the town’s website.

Although there are many good points, I can’t believe that the critical component of time limitations has been completely ignored.

This has been at the core of the concerns of the residents and property owners on the Island for the last three years!

All other East End Towns and their hamlets have time restrictions. The general guideline is that rentals of two weeks or less are not permitted — Riverhead does not allow rentals for less than 29 days.

How in the world the board does not see this as a cornerstone in addressing the citizens concerns and complaints is beyond me.

The “Draft Law of December 7, 2016” simply does not go far enough. I urge board members to listen to the community on this very important issue which has the potential of radically altering our Island’s unique place on the East End.

Finally, the January 2017 proposed date for public discussion should be delayed until the late spring or early summer when far more people will be able to attend the board meeting(s). I do hope that you will change this date.
Shelter Island

Deal with it
To the Editor:
Several letters to the Reporter of December 22 cry out, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and that is my plea to the Town Board. My husband and I have been landlords for many years, both with rental properties on Shelter Island and elsewhere with short-term, long-term and month-to-month arrangements.

This is how we make a living and how many others do as well, and some do short-term to supplement their income.

I urge the board to look long and strong at this unnecessary legislation they are imposing with a public hearing in January! All the letters written by Allen, Kaire, Hine, Pettibone and D’ Arcambal are on the mark. This imposed legislation is not necessary. Send notices to the people who are on the airbnb site reminding them of the town laws.

As a real estate broker on the Island for over 40 years, I happen to know every house that is being listed on airbnb and several other similar sites. All are perfectly legitimate. Leave these people alone and get on with other important Island issues and needs of the residents. Like proper dockage for the local fisherman.

The roads, marked for the 5K as danger spots? When is South Midway at Dickerson Creek going to be attended to? It is now going on 20 years or perhaps longer. Let’s deal with what needs to be dealt with and let the Island remain the wonderful place that it is.

Happy New Year to one and all.
Shelter Island

Need for rental housing
To the Editor;
The issue of affordable housing has indeed been forgotten and swept under the rug while short-term rental has become a bitter issue.

The December 29 issue of the Reporter portrays it quite accurately (“Affordable housing appears forgotten”). There is a very real need for rental housing. It is scarce. It is very expensive. It affects all ages.

Call your real estate offices and check out what is available. It’s very discouraging. We don’t need an expensive study. I agree that the problem is that a “proliferation of these (short-term) rentals take properties that might have been used for year-round rentals out of that market.”

Now, some people may agree and some may disagree. It’s important to be respectful of differing opinions.

Yet there are other issues to consider. I recently checked the airbnb site and there were 172 listings on Shelter Island! This has a direct impact on our bona fide, insured and licensed hotels and Bed and Breakfast businesses. These are businesses that provide real jobs, real wages and contribute to the economy in legitimately-zoned areas. They observe health and safety regulations. They also have proper insurance for their business.

How happy would an insurance company be if they knew the owner was renting short-term? Our hotels provide traditional services and they are good neighbors. I do agree that homeowners should be able to rent under proper restrictions. It does need to be reasonable. Shelter Island should have legislation mirroring the other East End towns. Unrestricted short-term rentals are just not good for Shelter Island.

The board should seriously consider postponing the January 27 hearing. It should be rescheduled for the spring.
Shelter Island

Home prices
To the Editor:
Some weeks ago, you published a letter from me regarding the consequences of not restricting short-term rentals on Shelter Island. I cited several issues which are of concern to me and many others, but a further concern with possibly more far-reaching and dire consequences for the plurality of our citizens has now become the focus my attention.

If short-term rentals are permitted to expand in a uniquely unrestricted fashion on Shelter Island, as compared to the four other East End towns that do restrict both the minimum term and maximum frequency of such rentals, it’s logical to believe we will garner a greater share of this activity than the other towns. If this does, indeed, turn out to be the case, it’s my definite concern that Shelter Island real estate prices will suffer a consequential and negative impact.

If a prospective buyer of a given house on our Island were to become aware that there was, or was likely to be, a significant incidence of short-term rentals in the immediate neighborhood, the attractiveness of the house in question would be likely to diminish in his or her eyes. It matters not whether the house in question were large or small, waterfront or not, the impact would likely be the same and, in each case, decidedly negative. Certainly the opposite result would not be a possibility — that the perceived value of a house would increase if such activity were to take place nearby.

This additional consequence of inaction on this issue by the Town Board occurred a while ago to me, and I thought it of some significant consequence. Recently, however, it was mentioned independently to me by an experienced real estate agent. Thus, the level of my concern has materially increased.

That the value of our local real estate has improved quite significantly since the 2008 crisis has been of some significant comfort to Shelter Island homeowners. I certainly believe that a reversal of this trend would be a major discomfort for all of us. I urge the board to act to significantly restrict the term and frequency of short-term rentals.
Shelter Island

Family friendly
To the Editor:
I was dismayed but not surprised to read that the latest Goat Hill restaurant was not returning.

We live nearby and have witnessed and sampled the many restaurants that have occupied the space over the years. I haven’t been too upset to see the last few go since they are the wrong kind of restaurant for the space. The last place we went to frequently was Fresh. The last two that were there didn’t warrant more than one visit.

What Fresh had was a menu of good, varied and reasonably-priced food that was accessible to families and visitors — burgers, pasta — staples that were good and priced right.

The last few restaurants have been too high-end or have tried to be, priced too high and too ambitious and a couple of them weren’t even that good. We already have plenty of higher-end restaurants on the Island. Given the location, the space and the decor, an American-style, moderately-priced restaurant might work.

I respectfully urge the Shelter Island Country Club (SICC) consider partnering with a restaurateur who can provide a family-friendly eatery. The Islander is the closest we have to that, and while we love the place, an alternative would be nice. I constantly see the letters and Town Board meeting articles about the “changing culture of the Island” and I’ve seen it myself in the 47 years I’ve been coming here.

The restaurants and shops that have opened in the last decade or two reflect that change and the SICC has an opportunity to target those of us who would like things to be more “as they were” (like when we used to go to Charlie’s for an ice cream when I was kid — those were the days).

If such a place existed at Goat Hill, my family would be there every week, but would still go to the Pharmacy for Sunday morning sandwiches and to the Islander for lunch — promise! Having a nice breakfast grill would be a nice touch. What could be better than pancakes and eggs while you look at that beautiful view?

Shelter Island